Cancer Council NSW commissioned Stephen Dupont to capture this poignant and emotive body of work for ‘Every Cancer Story Should Be Heard’, a campaign aimed at generating conversation and uniting the voices of those who live with Cancer. Dupont had the privilege of meeting and photographing 10 individuals whose lives have been impacted by the disease. His brief was to capture the raw human emotion – be it a story of grief and loss or for some, the joy of overcoming cancer. The honest, dignified and respectful portraits, accompanied by their stories capture the pain, but also the hope, the love of life and the beauty of the person with the illness.
Mim Jenkinson was diagnosed with Triple Negative Breast Cancer after a successful lumpectomy. She is currently undergoing chemotherapy and living day to day with Cancer. She tells journalist Alex Carlton her story:
"Cancer has done one thing I didn’t expect. It has made me understand that I can face the most terrible fears and get through. I hope that other people who experience cancer try to look at it without fear - or at least with less fear. On the day of the diagnosis all I could think of was the life that I thought I was never going to have. Seeing my kids grow up, and taking them to school, and seeing them get married, all of it. It flashed before my eyes and it was horrible, just horrible.
The details scared me. What do they always say on TV? “It’s the size of a pea.” This wasn’t. It was the size of a grape. I thought to myself, surely they just go in there and take it out with tweezers and then they sew you back up, right? Of course it’s not like that. My husband was with me and I just cried. What on earth would this mean - for me, for us? We had two small children. I was only young. This couldn’t really be happening.
I was almost ready to wean my baby when I found the lump. I didn’t even find it exactly - I’d just be reaching in front of me, in the shower or wherever, when I would feel my arm brush against something. You know when you walk, your legs know how to get out of the way of each other? A part of my breast didn’t know how to get out of the way of my arm. Something just wasn’t right. I kept feeling it in this one place but it wasn’t until my boobs started going down after breastfeeding that I found the lump. It was on the top - not where I’d been looking at all. I went to the doctor and we both thought it was probably just a blocked milk duct. Because that happens all the time, right? So I tried to massage it out. I really, really tried to massage this lump away. But it wasn’t going to be massaged out of my life. If only it could be. Next step was all the tests and then those words: “The doctor wants you to come in to discuss the results.” That’s when I knew.
It took about 20 minutes for me to go from Mim, to Miley Cyrus to Sinead O’Connor and finally to the new Mim. The Mim for now – the Mim who would face this treatment with a smile and a little less hair. My husband was there to video the shave and complimented me through the whole thing. We all laughed and I didn’t feel like crying once. We haven’t told my two-year-old daughter too much. She thinks everyone wears a wig now and takes it off to go to sleep. My mum made a lovely game with her where we told her that the more cuddles she gives mummy, the faster her hair will grow back. She’s been so good, especially when I’ve been too sick to play with her.
I wouldn't wish this on anyone but for the women who face this in the future, just know that you do not have to endure it with fear. You are not alone."